The Louvre in Abu Dhabi has announced further delays to the highly anticipated public display of the world’s most expensive painting, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. This comes at a time of major speculation regarding the piece’s authenticity, with some claims that it was in fact done by a student of Da Vinci and not the master himself.
There has been no reason provided for the delay as it was initially scheduled to go on display at the new Louvre in Abu Dhabi in September, but is now indefinitely on hold, according to the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.
The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi announces the postponement of the unveiling of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. More details will be announced soon pic.twitter.com/Xpu22n3W1G
— Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (@dctabudhabi) September 3, 2018
Pinned by Christie’s as “the biggest discovery of the 21st century,” the painting caused major headlines last November and broke the world record for the most expensive painting sold at an auction. It dates to around 1500 and is one of approximately 20 confirmed paintings by Da Vinci today. It’s argued to have been commissioned by the French King Louis XII but went missing in the 18th and 19th centuries.
It re-surfaced in 1958 and was falsely identified as a Giovanni Boltraffio piece, selling for a shocking $60. Christie’s said to have spent six years researching the painting’s authenticity and timeline before confidently confirming that it was created by Da Vinci, and not Boltraffio, who worked in his studio. The buyer, who was later revealed as a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family, was bidding on behalf of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
With regards to its authenticity, both sides are heavily debated. Frank Zollner, a German art historian who studied and wrote books about Leonardo Da Vinci, strongly claims that the painting “exhibits a strongly developed sfumato technique that corresponds more closely to the manner of a Leonardo pupil active in the 1520’s than to the style of the master himself”.
Another art historian who has extensively researched and written about Da Vinci’s works, Martin Kemp, argues that “there are no well-founded doubts about Leonardo’s responsibility for the picture”.